PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Landon Dickerson’s ability to do cartwheels at his size is a testament to his athleticism and may be harder than anything he has to do on the football field.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted the versatile offensive lineman in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, one night after taking another Alabama player in the first round.
They traded up to select Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith at No. 10 overall and stayed put to chose Dickerson at No. 37.
Philadelphia traded down in the third round, taking Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Milton Williams with the 73rd pick. They gained an extra sixth-round pick by sending No. 70 to Carolina.
The 6-foot-5, 333-pound Dickerson is coming off a torn ACL in the SEC championship game in December. But his knee didn’t prevent him from having fun at Alabama’s pro day. He couldn’t do drills so he did cartwheels in the background while Mac Jones was doing an interview.
“I have a gymnastics background, so I did that for quite a few years,” Dickerson said. “When I was younger, I tumbled a lot. I was told that I wasn’t allowed to do drills at pro day, so I was just trying to find a way to mess with Mac. Mac is one of my good friends and we always mess with each other in interviews, so it was just kind of going back and forth with him.”
Dickerson said his recovery is on schedule.
“We don’t have an exact time frame,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to be able to do whatever I can to make the team better no matter what stage I’m at this summer or when we get into the season. I want to be able to compete, be at practice, by the start of the season, but obviously things may change.”
Dickerson started the first seven games at right guard as a freshman at Florida State before an ACL injury ended his season. He started the first four games at left guard as a sophomore before an ankle injury sidelined him. He started one game in 2018 at right tackle before another ankle injury ended his season.
Dickerson transferred to Alabama in 2019 and started 13 games, four at right guard, nine at center. He started the first 11 games at center last season before sustaining a knee injury.
“Love his versatility, his toughness, his mean streak and just glad he’s an Eagle,” coach Nick Sirianni said.
Dickerson was projected as a late first-round pick before his injury. He provides insurance behind three-time All-Pro center Jason Kelce and depth at the guard sports.
His injury history wasn’t an issue for Philly.
“We think this is a special player and special person,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “We don’t think there’s any way he’s available at the 37th pick without those (injury) concerns. When we think about what kind of player this guy can be, what kind of person he can be for our football team, it was really exciting for us.”
Andy Weidl, the team’s vice president of player personnel, raved about Dickerson’s intangibles.
“The ability to overcome adversity, the mental toughness, the fortitude as a player, as a person, the leadership, when you take all of that into account, it made sense for us right there,” Weidl said.
Dickerson doesn’t have a preference where he plays on the line.
“I’m in this to make the Eagles the best team possible,” he said. “No matter what I can do, that’s my ultimate goal.”
Williams, 6-foot-3 and 284 pounds, played three seasons in college. He had 10 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He had an impressive pro day that drew the attention of many scouts. Williams said he’s most comfortable inside but willing to play defensive end also.
“One of the reasons I decided to come out this year is because I knew I’d be one of the most athletic tackles in this draft class,” Williams said.
The Eagles have eight more picks on Saturday.
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